My buddy John and I were two of five seventh graders that ‘made’ the junior high basketball team. (Sorry, can’t remember the other three) I remember this as a Very Big Deal at the time. I also remember that I wasn’t a very good basketball player. I didn’t handle the ball well and I wasn’t much of a shot. I was selected solely on the basis of “hustle.”

Coaches love hustle. They believe they can teach you how to be a better ball handler and improve your shooting skills… but they can’t give you that special mojo known as hustle. You have it or you don’t.

What Coach Proctor mistook for hustle in that skinny white boy was a near-pathological need to please this new male authority figure in my life. Throw myself headlong onto the hardwood floor? No problemo. Run “potato races” (sometimes known as “behind the lines”) until my lungs burst? I can do that.

None of which contributed very much to the final score but coaches know they need some of this second-string fire to keep the good players pushed (nudged?).

As I got older I discovered I could have much more fun in a pickup game at the park. Which is where I met Freddie B who lived in near-by public housing and played wearing rubber flip-flops. Freddie didn’t hustle. And he didn’t miss. From anywhere on the court. Swish.

These days, as I allow myself to move with the Tao, I sometimes flow, but I don’t hustle.